In the first song, Brenton, the lead singer and guitarist of the Holy White Hounds dove into a guitar solo on his knees, kicking his head back behind him. I stood there thinking, “OK, they’ve already reached a climax that most bands get to towards the end of their show. How are they going to top it?” Well, they did not disappoint. The Holy White Hounds took the audience by storm on January 25th at the Cobra Lounge. In a dark room equipped with a stage and a bar, the band was anything but safe.
With confidence and charisma, Brenton, Ambrose, James, and Seth began their set. After a trance-like intro, Brenton announced, “We’re the Holy White Hounds,” and separated by only one quarter of a beat, went directly into their second song. With a prominent bass line, rugged electric guitars, and explosive percussion, the quartet nailed us with their spirit and unruliness.
This was rock ‘n roll that was yin and yang—each song had a component of seriousness and ludicrousness, and the guys performed it that way. Whether it was Brenton and James massaging each other’s tongues, or James jumping into the crowd and shredding his guitar while on his back, or Seth keeping his face hidden with his hair and never even looking at the audience, it was clear they were a beautiful, harmonized disaster.
“Black Lust,” a song about a confusing relationship, was one of the highlights of the night. A one-sided, head-spinning account of two people belonging together, but not technically belonging to each other. You can’t help but feel a sense of conflict and frustration in the intense guitar riffs that Brenton and James spit back and forth at each other throughout the song. Seth’s drumming brings them together as the mediator. However, with the lyrics, it seems that this is an inner-conflict, lashing out with the harsh tone in the lyric “Nobody wants you.” As the chorus comes along, Brenton sings “She wants to have my baby/ She can’t get enough of me, no,” and the guitars shift from buzzing riffs to cool strums. Fickleness is painful.
A personal favorite song of mine was “Switchblade.” I had heard it before the show and it’s what got me hooked on these guys. I love this song for how dangerous it feels. Its psychedelic intro hypnotizes you, and with the opening lyrics of “Sitting in the backseat/ Suckin’ on a switchblade,” you already start to feel a comfort in riskiness. The vocals have a dripping sensation, as Brenton sings it in an extremely legato manner, each line a string of glue falling off the edge of a countertop.
The Holy White Hounds continued to play, even testing out brand new songs on us as if we were their trusted mentors. Their candid nature speaks to their name: having the attributes of a feral animal that still looks and sounds nice. On their Facebook page, they describe themselves: “We’re dirty, but we’re not unclean. We’re mangy, but you’d still let us sleep in your bed.”